Monday, June 7, 2010

Manifest Destiny: Heading West

Tomorrow I head west on a this large metal contraption modern folk call a plane. I'd prefer a dirigible, but we all can't be choosers, now can we?

While compiling a large load of laundry (hello alliteration) for said trip, I came across a few things that were very much western at heart. One was this old piece of fabric I'd saved from my Nana's things after she passed away. Nana was a quilt maker, artist, needlepointalist (is that a word?) and a lover of all things beyond the Mississippi. She especially loved the work of Georgia O'Keefe and the Native American tribes of the west. This fabric of hers reminds me of both, and I wish I could figure out something to create with it. It seems like such a waste to leave it as is. It should be used and loved.

This belt was my other discovery. I'd had the leather strap rolled up and stored in my closet for years but I hadn't seen the buckle for the first time since high school until this morning. It was hidden beneath a forgotten pile of clothes on my dresser.

It reads "Central & Union Pacific Rail Road Co." The Central Pacific RR laid its first tracks in 1863 to connect to the Union Pacific RR, which is the largest RR network in the states, apparently. I have no idea how old this buckle is, but it's mighty heavy. I think it belonged to my Nana's grandfather. Her family was from out west, and she herself had been born in La Jolla, California.

The image on the buckle is a heard of longhorn cattle being corralled. In the picture, in the back left, you can see a cowboy wielding a whip. Now, the only longhorn cattle I know come from Texas, and the only parts of the west that my nana's family came from were Arizona, Nevada and Cali. Then again, if you're traveling on a railroad, visiting other states ain't that difficult.

Discussing these things leaves me feeling melancholy. I wish I knew more about my Nana's family, but I rarely got a chance to talk with her about them. The few things I do know are fascinating though...

We had a great-great-grandfather named Paul Frazer who was a naturist and wrote several books on fishing and the wilderness which you can still find in old bookstores today. We have piles of letters from another ancestor, D.M. Frazer, who was a doctor in the Civil War, along with a sword from the war which was engraved with his name. (The first things I noticed in the letters was that he gave his children incredible names like Winthrop, Mahala, and Houton.) We know my nana had a bear cub for a pet when she was a little girl. I've also seen pictures of my nana as a baby lying on a bear skin rug, and I hope that her pet didn't become her cuddle toy.

I wish I could still ask.



No comments:

Post a Comment